These fried cheese and za'atar spring rolls are quick, easy, vegetarian, and always a hit at any event. I love quick appetizers whenever I have people coming over. Almost everyone loves fried food, especially if it involves cheese, and the za'atar just puts the perfect twist on a classic appetizer. You can have them with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and don't be afraid to get creative with your fillings. You can use a mix of cheese, add olives, tomatoes, it's really up to you. I think they're great on their own, especially dipped in some labneh. If you like these fried cheese spring rolls, try these fried cheese samosas, beef samosas, and beef sambousek.
What I Love About This Recipe
There's just something about the crispy spring roll, the melted cheese, and the taste of za'atar all together that makes these spring rolls just drool-worthy. With just 4 ingredients, you'll have the perfect little appetizers. They're SO easy to make, and you can make them ahead and freeze them for whenever you're in the mood for a cheesy bite of za'atar goodness.
- Spring Roll Pastry: You'll find these in the frozen section at your local grocery store or Asian market. They come in different sizes, and you can use whichever size you find or prefer. Just thaw and start rolling.
- Oil: Use any type of oil with a high smoke point. Some options are canola oil, vegetable oil, and frying oil.
- Cheese: I usually use shelal cheese for this recipe, but you can use any kind of cheese you like.
- Za'atar: This is a common Middle Eastern spice mix which is made differently depending on the country. My favorite kinds are red za'atar from Aleppo and green za'atar from Jordan.
How To Make Fried Cheese and Za'atar Spring Rolls
Thaw spring roll wrappers. Place a tablespoon of cheese and a teaspoon of za'atar on the bottom edge of the wrapper, leaving some space on the sides.
Fold the edges over the filling and roll tightly. Seal by dipping your finger in water, then place the spring rolls seam side down while you finish rolling them all.
Heat the oil. You'll need just enough to submerge the spring rolls in (you'll know it's ready when you place the back of a wooden spoon in and the oil starts to bubble).
In batches, drop the spring rolls in, stirring while they fry until golden. Remove spring rolls with a slotted spoon. Place the cooked spring rolls on a paper towel and repeat.
Tips and Tricks
- Don't overfill the spring roll wrappers. Depending on the size of your spring roll wrappers, you want to add just enough cheese and za'atar so that they don't swell up too much when you fry them. My spring roll wrappers are 7.5" x 7.5" (20cm x 20cm), and about a tablespoon of cheese with a teaspoon of za'atar is the perfect ratio.
- Fold and roll tightly. To prevent the filling from spilling out, fold the edges tightly and make sure you tuck and roll tightly.
- Don't buy rice paper. Specifically, look for spring roll wrappers. Rice paper is also common, but it's completely different and won't give you the same results.
- Stir while frying. To make sure they fry and crisp up evenly, use a frying spatula or slotted spoon to stir them around during the frying process.
- Place on a paper towel after frying. To get the ultimate crispy fried spring rolls, place them on a paper towel immediately after frying. This will absorb excess oil and avoid soggy spring rolls.
This recipe is super customizable, and you can basically use any type of cheese you want. My favorite is shelal cheese, which is slightly salty and melts into the perfectly stretchy cheese pull. It's a very common Syrian breakfast cheese, and since za'atar is also usually served at the breakfast table, they compliment each other very well.
Some other cheese suggestions:
- Mozzarella: For a more neutral flavor and the ultimate cheese pull. For best results, use fresh mozzarella cut into strips slightly smaller than the size of your spring roll pastry.
- Halloumi: This type of cheese doesn't melt, but gives a lovely slightly salty flavor that's perfection in these crispy za'atar and cheese spring fried rolls.
- Akkawi: A mild white cheese that's one of the most common in Middle Eastern baking (both sweet and savory). It's a really good melting cheese and will give a slightly sweeter taste to compliment your za'atar.
- Feta or White Cheese: Another non-melting cheese, but the saltiness in feta and other types of white cheese go really well with za'atar and are commonly used in Middle Eastern pastries.
- Kashskaval: One of my favorite yellow cheeses. It has a unique flavor with a hint of olive oil so it's naturally one of my favorite za'atar pairings. It also melts beautifully.
Spring roll wrappers are really thin square-shaped pastry sheets that are made of wheat flour, oil, and salt. They're most common in Asian cuisines like Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean, where they're usually stuffed with vegetables or meat. You'll also find something similar in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, but they're folded into a triangle shape and called samosas.
Egg roll wrappers are thicker than spring roll wrappers. Egg roll wrappers are doughy and made with wheat flour and eggs whereas spring roll wrappers are made from wheat flour, oil, and salt.
Yes, frozen spring rolls and frozen eggs rolls can be deep-fried directly from the freezer. If the oil is too hot, however, the outer wrapper will brown too quickly before the inside gets thoroughly cooked. Just make sure to adjust the oil temperature.
- A deep frying pan
- Slotted spoon or frying spatula
- Paper towels
Spring rolls can be made ahead and frozen for up to 4 months. Separate spring roll wrappers with parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. Thaw for 1 hour then fry.